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Deciding Tense and POV


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#1 WritesToEscapeReality

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:11 PM

How do you all decide which tense and POV to write in? I tend to write in 1st Person/Present. I guess it is out of habit, who knows, but that's how I tend to write.

I am questioning if that is the best way to go. What are the common POVs for the different levels of children's books? I see YA is mostly 1st person, but what about MG and Chapter Books? Also, what tense?
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#2 RC Lewis

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:20 PM

I have mss in pretty much all of the above--1st present, 1st past, and 3rd past. All of them are YA. For my very first ms, I started in 3rd past, got a few pages in and said, "This doesn't feel right." So I went back, changed to 1st past, and everything flowed from there.

For me, it varies by story, because as much as I sometimes prefer writing in one or another, I find certain stories are suited to certain tense/POV choices.

(I detailed some of my thought process in a blog post recently.) :blush:

As far as whether certain types are more/less common at the MG or chapter book level, I'm not sure.
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#3 Cat Woods

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:40 PM

Great question and well answered by RC. I'm with her. I write any and all of the above based on the story I'm writing. For me, one way just feels right. It fits the voice and style of my MC and the story he/she has to tell.

Not that this is a complete answer, but here's what I've got:

3 picture books all in 3rd past.

1 chapter book omnicient/narrated past that follows the MC (a conglomeration of six characters in a family) Rule breaker, for sure.
1 chapter book 1st past
1 chapter book 3rd past with alternating PsOV--Again, not typical in chapter books

2 MG 1st past
1 MG 1st present

1 YA 1st past with (12) alternating 3rd past
1 YA 1st past
1 YA 1st present

Hope this helps.

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#4 WritesToEscapeReality

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:03 PM

Great question and well answered by RC. I'm with her. I write any and all of the above based on the story I'm writing. For me, one way just feels right. It fits the voice and style of my MC and the story he/she has to tell.

Not that this is a complete answer, but here's what I've got:

3 picture books all in 3rd past.

1 chapter book omnicient/narrated past that follows the MC (a conglomeration of six characters in a family) Rule breaker, for sure.
1 chapter book 1st past
1 chapter book 3rd past with alternating PsOV--Again, not typical in chapter books

2 MG 1st past
1 MG 1st present

1 YA 1st past with (12) alternating 3rd past
1 YA 1st past
1 YA 1st present

Hope this helps.


So Cat, what your trying to say is just do whatever? lol

Both my current MSS are 1st/present so I guess that works
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#5 bigblackcat97

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:13 PM

Great question. My answer is you have to do what's organic to the story.

I'm revising a ms right now that necessarily needed to be 1st person b/c the internal monologue / though process of my MC is what (imo) makes the story. Her personality is the voice of the ms.

But when I wrote it I was resisting writing in present, b/c that's what everyone else was doing and I'm very much anti-what-everyone-else-is-doing. But that was a BIG mistake.

RC and Cat BOTH told me it would be better served as a 1st / present, as well as at least 2 other critters, and I just refused to see it. So when I dove back into the revisions I needed to write a new opener and I opened a blank doc, the opening sentence pooped into my head as -

Present tense.

And I said bad words. I should've listened to my critters all along. Now I spend my days killing "ed" verbs.

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#6 Cat Woods

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:39 PM

LOL, BBC. I switched one ms from present to past. I was ready to cry at the end of that fiasco. The subtleties between the two are far more than a simple find and replace!

And yes, WTE, do what feels right for each individual story. For me, I simply let voice guide the way.

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#7 WritesToEscapeReality

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:47 PM

Great question. My answer is you have to do what's organic to the story.

I'm revising a ms right now that necessarily needed to be 1st person b/c the internal monologue / though process of my MC is what (imo) makes the story. Her personality is the voice of the ms.

But when I wrote it I was resisting writing in present, b/c that's what everyone else was doing and I'm very much anti-what-everyone-else-is-doing. But that was a BIG mistake.

RC and Cat BOTH told me it would be better served as a 1st / present, as well as at least 2 other critters, and I just refused to see it. So when I dove back into the revisions I needed to write a new opener and I opened a blank doc, the opening sentence pooped into my head as -

Present tense.

And I said bad words. I should've listened to my critters all along. Now I spend my days killing "ed" verbs.


Don't feel bad. I wrote mine in present tense and I am still having to kill "ed" verbs lol
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#8 Jean Oram

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:59 PM

I have so been there with changing the tense of a story. For me a 90K women's fiction piece. Ack!

I agree with doing what feels right for the story. I would also recommend checking out what is selling well in your genre of that category. Not to say that you have to do what they are doing, but it might give you a feel for what agents and editors are looking for and therefore might help you get that first foot in the door. Of course, if what they are doing really doesn't jive with your story, do what feels right. Always. :smile:

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